Review: IMMORTALS (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review: IMMORTALS (2011)

RATING: 1.5/5

Throughout a short but illustrious career, India-born director Tarsem Singh had only made two feature movies. One was the mind-bending thriller THE CELL (2000), and another one was the little-seen THE FALL (2006). His third feature, IMMORTALS, is certainly his most ambitious directing effort to date. Dubbed by the director himself as CARAVAGGIO (1986) meets FIGHT CLUB (1999), IMMORTALS does looks like a promising effort which mixes Greek mythology and Renaissance art shot in a hyper-stylized, 300-style. Well, at least on the outlook of how the promotional trailers have been aggressively advertised all this while. However, despite all the fantastical elements, Tarsem Singh's sword-and-sandals action extravaganza is hardly the action-packed vibe one might come expect for this kind of genre. Instead it's a disappointingly gloomy picture (both figuratively and literally) that is too heavy-handed and awfully slow-moving.

Set in Greece circa 1228 B.C., we are introduced to Theseus (Henry Cavill), a tough but humble peasant who lives on a quaint cliff with his mother (Anne Day-Jones). He is also a skilled fighter, thanks to a wise old man (John Hurt) who taught him well how to defend himself ever since he was a kid. When his small village is about to get invaded by the tyranny King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), an anti-God ruler who is desperately searching for the Epirus Bow, a holy weapon capable of destroying humanity, the only mankind's best hope lies unexpectedly on the shoulder of Theseus. The old man knows this very well, because he's actually a god named Zeus (Luke Evans) disguised as a human being all the while to guide Theseus. After Theseus witnessing the brutal execution of his mother by King Hyperion, he swears upon vengeance that he will seek justice with the help of an oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and a wisecracking slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff). In the meantime, King Hyperion is preparing to unleash the legion of Titans from the abyss of Mount Tartarus, where the evil immortals will battle against the gods of Olympus once the ultimate war breaks loose.

From the outlook of the plot, IMMORTALS could have been a straightforward revenge picture. However, Charles Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides' screenplay is awfully long-winded in which their plot goes unbelievably a whole nine yards direction just to tell such a lackluster story. Everything here feels monotonous, and worst still, the deadening pace is such a butt-numbing experience to sit through. Like his previous two efforts, Tarsem Singh remains an incompetent director when comes in handling story and characters-wise. Not surprisingly, all the actors here are akin of strict caricatures while the dialogues are awfully stilted and sometimes they feel unintentionally laughable as well. Henry Cavill, who is going to make headline for playing Superman/Clark Kent in Zack Snyder's upcoming Superman reboot, MAN OF STEEL, due June 14, 2013, has the ideal appearance of portraying a tough action hero. It just sad to see his character feels uninvolving as a protagonist, who is surprisingly doesn't seems very crucial to the whole story here (you'll understand once you see it). In the meantime, Stephen Dorff feels strangely out of place playing a comic relief of sorts in this otherwise self-serious movie, and Frieda Pinto is largely wasted in a thankless role as the oracle. Even the presence of Mickey Rourke is wasted as well, who hams up a lazy performance as King Hyperion.

What Tarsem Singh manages to sustain some interest is his expertise in visual flair. Likewise, he has a keen eye of showcasing a visually stunning cinema. Watching IMMORTALS is like experiencing both Greek mythology and Renaissance art painting jumps to vivid life. He also knows how to stage a meticulously-crafted action sequence via 300-style filled with crazy gore, lots of fluid camerawork and glorious slow-motion shots. Each time an action sequence takes place (especially during the bloody swordplay), the movie is truly a first-rate entertainment. Among the most stylish action set-piece is the gory battle scene between the gods of Olympus and the legion of Titans shot in suspended motion. The only setback is that Tarsem Singh doesn't know how to prolong an action sequence to a satisfying level. More than often, they feel brief whereas they could have been more elaborate. If you are expecting 300 all the way, just prepare to be disappointed.

Flashy visuals aside, most of the eye-candy experiences suffered from badly-lit cinematography by Brendan Galvin, which I must admit, quite an annoying experience. While I watched this movie in normal theaters, I could have imagined how torturing to sit through if viewed this in 3D version.

No comments: